Plus, another chance to read…
2024 is shaping up to be a busy year for this newsletter. I’d like to take advantage of the calm before the storm to give new and old subscribers a preview of some of the stories I’ll be covering in the coming year with some links to previous work in these areas. Although many of these stories are set on my home island in the Pacific Northwest, the issues we face here are global. Things that are true but easy to ignore on a global scale – that resources are finite, that we’re all connected, that there’s no “away” to throw things, for example – are easier to see on an island where our drinking water comes from our rainfall, where we live in community, and where our trash has to be hauled over the bridge to the mainland. All of that just might give us an edge in implementing solutions to some of the problems.
Here’s what’s coming up.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a discussion with some constituents concerned about drinking water for our anticipated population growth on the island. Out of that conversation came an invitation to speak to the local Tilth group about water for farming, which was a chance to road test a class I’m teaching this week at a Farmers Forum, and an invitation from a local leadership group to be on a panel for their ecological leadership students. I covered some of the issues facing farming in this community in a series of posts earlier this year, and I’m looking forward to writing more soon. I have some thoughts to share on leadership too.
The Navy is holding an open house on further testing for PFAS (“Forever Chemicals”) in drinking water around their facilities on the island and is hosting a Restoration Advisory Board meeting a month later. Meanwhile, the EPA may release new maximum contaminant levels for PFAS as soon as March. The renewed urgency is in light of the possibility that the Supreme Court decision in the Loper Bright case will gut the EPA’s authority to make rules. These new rules will have a major impact on drinking water around the state and around the country. I’ve written extensively about PFAS in the past year and anticipate much more this year.
The County is holding open houses on a scheduled update, mandated by Washington State’s Growth Management Act, of the baseline planning document known as the Comprehensive Plan. In planning for an additional 15,000 people, the update shines a spotlight on local environmental issues from drinking water availability and governance to sea level rise and shoreline development. A group of us are meeting to leverage the opportunity to improve bicycle infrastructure on the island. Look for more on the many issues the plan touches.
Sound Water Stewards, a group that was kind enough to give me an award last year is holding their annual Sound Waters University at the end of the week. To cap what’s already shaping up to be an eventful year, two of our three County Commissioner seats are up for election in November.
I’ll be covering all these stories, local, but with global relevance, throughout the year.
Off the island, our travel plans this year take us to Oceanside, California, where I’m curious to see the impact of this winter’s storms on the shoreline; Boulder, Colorado; Kennewick, Washington, from where I’ll be writing about the Columbia River and the Yakima Valley; New Zealand; and maybe more. I plan to write about all of these through my usual lens of water, but I can’t exclude the possibility of a side of travel drama! You can read previous travel stories featuring both water and drama here.
Thanks, as always for reading or listening. Please let me know in the comments which of these issues resonate with you, what you’ve enjoyed in my past stories, and which ones you’re looking forward to.